It’s called the Go+, and as it says on the tin, this new MPV is basically a Go with a little something extra. View the car head on and it looks exactly like the Go. It has the same chin and bumper, with the same hexagonal grille, sharp-cut V in the bonnet, attractive wrap-around headlights with metal inserts and windscreen.
On the inside too, the front of the cabin is all but identical to that of the Go, like the nicely styled but sparse dash, the slim bench seats and the same basic AC system with just a four-speed blower and no option for de-fog or re-circulate. The presence of the aftermarket audio system on this car however, makes this dash a touch more attractive.
Even the mechanical bits are unchanged. The three-cylinder, all-aluminium 1.2-litre engine has high-tech features like one ignition coil per cylinder, and produces 67bhp @5000rpm. The front strut type suspension is the same, as is the torsion beam unit at the rear. Even the 155/70 R13 tyres and the wheelbase of the car are the same.
It’s past the rear door that all is new, like the combination of the descending roofline and the rising beltline that looks nice and the stylistic ‘flick’ on the shoulder of the car. There's a lower roof at the rear and a new, slimmer rear windscreen as well. The clever bit here is that despite the increase in length, it still qualifies as a sub-four-metre car. The biggest beneficiary of this extra rear overhang, of course, is interior space. Legroom on the second row seems to be marginally better than on the Go and the cabin feels airier too.
The third row, however, is just not useable as getting in is the first hurdle. Only the backrest of the second row folds down; you have to clamber over the seat to get in, and once there, you'll find you have absolutely no space. The seat is placed on the floor, there is no space for your feet and headroom is non existent. Even children will be severely cramped here. The space can be made use of, though. Flip the backrest, and it'll fit three or four large suitcases and while folding down the backrest of the second row gives it the practicality of a mini estate car.
While some of the inside bits, like the steering wheel, dashboard and door-pads, are well put together, there are clear signs of cost-cutting. The doors and hatch, for example, feel extremely ‘tinny’, the bootlid lacks cladding and only the front passengers get retractable three-point seatbelts.
On the Go
With a similar amount of power as the Go and 20kg more to lug around, you’d expect this MPV to feel a bit sluggish, but no. Clever gearing and plenty of torque make the motor very responsive – it takes off when you put your foot down. There is a hint of hesitation at very low revs, but that apart, it is even comfortable cruising around in a high gear in city traffic; you don’t even need to go to a lower gear most of the time. The gearbox and light clutch work well enough and while the box does have a long throw, the gears slot in nicely if you are firm. What also helps you relax in traffic are the well-metered brakes and the light steering. The engine does get a bit noisy towards 5000rpm and there is plenty of road and tyre noise, but that is more to do with the poor insulation of the cabin.
What makes the city commute nicer is the car's drive. The suspension is very pliant and absorbent, is really silent when going over rough patches and there isn’t too much pitching or nose-bobbing. Even more of a surprise is that it doesn’t feel uncomfortable at speed. The narrow tyres don’t offer much grip and the soft suspension could have led to really sloppy straight-line stability, but the carmaker's engineers, all things considered, seem to have done a good job here. It, however, isn’t too fond of corners. The high ground clearance, soft springs and lack of anti-roll bars means there is considerable roll. And there isn’t too much grip on offer either.
This isn’t a proper seven-seater – putting even children in the back will be a challenge, what it is, is a five-seater with plenty of luggage space. It looks big in profile and there’s plenty of flexible space on the inside too. Yes, they has cut a bit too many corners here, and customers are unlikely to appreciate that. And this isn’t likely to be the safest car either.
But if the company prices this car aggressively when they launch it in January 2015, it could prove attractive. Well-engineered, spacious, efficient and good value, the Datsun Go+ has a lot going for it.